Looking at Illustration

Illustration with colour

 This week I have drawn inspiration from a Children’s book we have in our home, Trouble in the Arc, by Gerald Rose. I am sure we have all had those moments when we have been swept up in the extraordinary abilities of book illustrators to present unique and engaging images. So this week I tried to pick up on some of the things that make Rose’s illustrations so vibrant and dynamic with the goal of broadening the range of techniques we can use as teachers and students.  


For this illustration I have created a picture of a snake (because it’s so hard NOT to get wrong!), but of course these materials and processes can be applied to almost any illustration ( it does work so well with animals though). This kind of step-by-step activity would work well for children ages 7 and up.

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To achieve this look, I am limiting myself to coloured pencils only, no black outlines. That means draft your drawing with a light pencil such as yellow, or pale blue. Don’t stress about mistakes, we can just colour over them later. 

Now with the same colour pencil segment up your animal, creating lines that separate wings, or legs, or the face for example. This allows us to fill these segments with different patterns. 

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These sections of the body can be outlined carefully with different coloured pencils and filled with simple patterns. Encourage your child to think of varied patterns which might match the texture of your animal, stripes, zig zags, spots, fur, or scales. Outline the patterns again with a new colour, this extra outlining gives the patterns a vibrancy.


Now colour in gently over the top of the patterns with some final colours to fill in the animal. Finally, choose one or two light colours to do a final outline on your animal to make it glow.

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For a background of course you can stick with the coloured pencils, but I have chosen to do a simple watercolour effect. I did a yellow wash all around the snake background, then when that was dry I applied a grassy texture with green. 

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What are your favourite childrens book illustrations?? 'Where the Wild Things Are'  is definitely one of my all time favourites - all of those wonderful monsters, and the amazing texture and detail of each character.

I wonder what books you could use to inspire your child??

Happy drawing!


Tracy x

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